"There are some of us who live in another world and see things differently," remarked designer Donna Karan
as she introduced her dear friend and founder of the Ross School, Courtney Ross, at the recent Live @ Club Starlight Gala which honored Ross and celebrated the 20th anniversary of the revolutionary school in East Hampton. Karan continued, "Be a tunnel for energy and live for the world." At that the room exploded with cheers for Ross who sat humbly beside friend and yoga partner Russell Simmons
with a soft smile on her face.
It's not every day that a summer party has celebrities in the crowd and in a dedication video the likes of icons Oprah
Winfrey, Steven Spielberg
, and Quincy Jones, each of whom count Courtney as a friend and to some degree a mentor. In the retrospective Oprah explained that when she was developing her school in Africa she looked to Courtney's model and was, "trying to follow in your footsteps."
Chairs of the event Charles Stevenson and Alex Kuczynski. (Photo: Rob Rich/SocietyAllure.com)
It was a night of unexpected moments beginning with Nicole Ross
, a dedicated volunteer who travels to disaster areas facilitating emergency medicine, introducing the Nicole Ross Scholarship to be giving to a child from Haiti. Nicole has spent quite a great deal of time in Haiti working to rebuild hospitals. She assisted as alumni and current students gifted Courtney with a collection of priceless beads from all over the world.
In her words of thanks Courtney graciously said that this night was the, "spontaneous fulfillment of desire" and that the school was "built on the notion of service." She was beaming as she spoke of her dearly departed husband Steven Ross and his influence on her and the school. With the motto of, "Screw that I'll do it myself," Courtney explained that she started the school to create the best educational experience for her daughter. Now, the little-school-that-could is a model for others around the world and embraces Courtney's global philosophy explained by Karan, "to be a person of the world…education must change."
After all the speeches and remarks the evenings' other headliner, Roberta Flack
took the stage. She took to the piano and performed her notable ballad "Killing Me Softly" most soulfully; the room was silent until it erupted in applause at the last note. She followed it up with the sexiest version of "Tonight You're Mine" you'd ever have the pleasure to hear. More followed and as the room filled with notables including Gabby Karan, Charles Stevenson, Dr. Gerald Curatola, Alex Kuczynski, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman
, and US Representative Timothy Bishop
took note of numerous silent auction items and delectable chocolate treats from the Ross School kitchens before departing near midnight.
Earlier in the evening Courtney remarked during the cocktail party that her work "would never be completed." Here's to another 20 years!
Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com